VIC recycling reforms; NSW’s in doubt: LGNSW

A recycling bin and a waste bin in Yarraville, VIC.

While Victoria’s recycling system is set to change following an announcement this week by the Andrews State Government, Local Government New South Wales has warned that Australia’s most populous state risks having more of its waste sent to landfill.

Recycling Victoria is a $300m, 10-year plan to create a circular economy through measures including a fourth waste bin (purple for glass), a container deposit scheme from 2023, and a diversion from landfill target of 80 percent.

The decision follows the collapse of SKM Recycling in 2019 and the COAG agreement last August to ban the export of plastics and other waste to countries such as China, which in 2017 said it would no longer accept imports of other countries’ poor quality waste products.

The announcement comes almost 12 months since the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) released its five-point Rescue Our Recycling plan that outlined steps all levels of government could take.

“We welcome the State’s commitment to work with local government on the design of the container deposit scheme and to provide funding and implementation support for the roll-out of separate services for glass and food waste,” Cr Ruth Gstrein, MAV Deputy President (Rural) said.

“We are pleased to see the policy acknowledges that councils will need to tailor service models to the needs of their communities, that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.”

Cr Gstrein also said the MAV wasn’t surprised by the Victorian Government’s decision to progressively raise the landfill levy over coming years, adding MAV didn’t want Victoria to become a dumping ground for interstate waste.

“We anticipate that the $129 million funding support for kerbside bin reform will only cover a portion of the implementation costs for councils,” she added.

“More funding assistance will be needed to reduce impacts on households.”

Speaking after the Victorian announcement, LGNSW President, Cr Linda Scott said her association and local councils have advocated for more than a year for the NSW Government to reinvest the NSW waste levy in recycling.

“Councils are still waiting on the long-promised state waste strategy,” Cr Scott said.

“Meanwhile, NSW is generating more waste than ever; household recycling and waste diversion rates are stagnating; and existing regulation and procurement policies continue to stymy innovation and the development of new recycled products and markets.

“With export bans on waste material quickly approaching and stockpiles of recycled resources growing in NSW, it is critical for more effort to be made to support the recycling industry to improve waste management practices and boost markets for recyclable materials.”

LGNSW and NSW councils, renewed their call for the NSW Government to save the state’s recycling system in four ways:

1. allowing councils to develop regional waste plans and deliver priority infrastructure;

2.  increase procurement of recycled goods made with domestic content;

3. deliver statewide education campaigns to promote waste avoidance and recycling;

and 4. introduce producer responsibility schemes for problematic materials.

Plastics Summit

These developments come ahead of the National Plastics Summit at Parliament House in Canberra on 2 March that’s been convened by the Federal Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley.

The gathering will feature several federal ministers, many local governments, dozens of industry groups, school children, and the wider public.

ALGA President and Mayor of the City of Prospect, David O’Loughlin, will speak during the session ‘plastics and our daily life’.